Local councils have spent almost £300,000 on major fly-tips since 2012, new figures show

COUNCILS across the Solent region have paid almost £300,000 to clear up large-scale fly-tips over the past eight years, new figures show.

Thursday, 13th February 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 14th February 2020, 4:05 pm

A bill of £275,565 was footed by authorities in Portsmouth, Havant, Gosport, Fareham and East Hampshire between 2012 and 2020.

Of that sum Fareham has paid the most, a total of £87,565 for 271 incidents, but just three were recorded last year compared to 21 in 2011.

Portsmouth’s council had to pay £15,025 to clean up major tips in that time – the least across all five authorities.

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A huge fly-tip off Hulbert Road, Havant, in 2018. Picture: Environment Agency

It registered 10 large-scale fly-tips last year and just one in 2011.

At least a tipper lorry load of waste was illegally dumped in each recorded instance, while dozens took multiple large vehicles to clear.

Portsmouth City Council leader, councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said: ‘We’ve been very successful about getting people into court and getting them fined for fly-tipping.

‘It’s a big problem, but I'm pleased we take it seriously and we are taking action against people who do it.

‘And unusually, in Portsmouth council tax payers do not have to fit the bill for it. They have to under other authorities.’

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Instances of large-scale fly-tipping across the nation have more than doubled since 2012.

Police and environmental groups say the surge is being driven by criminal gangs offering illegal waste clearing services, often via social media.

The five Hampshire councils have recorded 878 of these major incidents since 2012.

But while the 62 logged last year was the lowest sum since then, Portsmouth, Havant and East Hampshire all logged more than they did eight years ago.

The councils collectively estimate to have spent £1,309,963 on all fly-tipping instances over the past eight years.

Cllr David Renard, environment spokesman for the Local Government Association, has called for heavier penalties for fly-tipping.

It is currently a criminal offence punishable by a fine of up to £50,000 or 12 months’ imprisonment if convicted in a magistrates' court.

At crown court, it can attract an unlimited fine and up to five years' imprisonment.

‘Councils are determined to crack down on the problem, including installing CCTV at fly-tipping hotspots, which has led to successful prosecutions,' said Cllr Renard.

‘However, prosecuting fly-tippers often requires time-consuming and laborious investigations, with a high threshold of proof.

‘The new government needs to ensure councils have the funding needed to investigate incidents and should review sentencing guidelines for fly-tipping, so that fly-tippers are given bigger fines for more serious offences to help deter incidents.’

The five councils have recorded 28,369 fly-tipping incidents since 2012.